Obese women have a harder time getting pregnant naturally, but are also less likely to achieve success during fertility treatments. Many people are aware of that, but what role does obesity play in male infertility? Are men with a very high BMI unable to get their partner pregnant? How does obesity impact male infertility?
A Danish study of almost 1,600 young men (who were trying to join the military, and had to provide a sperm sample!) showed that those men with a BMI of 25 or over had a much lower sperm count than men with a healthy weight, and that their sperm concentration was also lower. Men with a BMI of over 25 are considered to be overweight, while those with a BMI over 30 would be labeled as obese. We should take into account that muscle weighs more than fat, and that very muscular men with a higher BMI may not have too much body fat at all.
Finish data suggests that every 20 pounds too much decreases male fertility by 10 percent — conversely, this should mean that those guys who are slightly overweight can increase their chance of getting their partner pregnant significantly by losing just a few pounds, while those who are severely overweight need to work a bit harder.
French researchers, who also found that obesity lowers sperm count and can even result in semen with no live sperm at all, had an interesting theory about the underlying cause of this. Fat cells increase the presence of the female hormone estrogen in the body, which suppresses testosterone.
Obesity can lead to cardiovascular complications, diabetes, joint problems, and many more things researchers are still figuring out. It should come as no surprise that being overweight and obese also interferes with male infertility. When a couple appears to be unable to get pregnant after trying to conceive for a significant amount of time, it is usually the woman’s fertility they worry about first.
Lifestyle factors of both partners should be examined critically before considering talking to a doctor and undergoing fertility testing — and men should see where they can improve just as much as women. Eating habits, physical activity, and smoking and drinking should all find themselves under the microscope. If you are overweight, losing those excess pounds may make all the difference, and it makes sense to tackle the problems that are right in your face before seeing whether the female partner has blocked fallopian tubes, for instance.
Diabetes and Male Infertility
Diabetes deserves a mention here, because Type 2 diabetes is linked to obesity and lifestyle factors. This condition, too, can impact male infertility — alongside obesity itself. Research shows that diabetes causes a lower semen volume, and DNA changes in sperm cells. These negative DNA changes cause lower pregnancy rates, a higher risk of miscarriage, and can lead to some serious birth defects.
You’ll find insulin resistance in up to 60 percent of obese men, whether they are officially diabetic or not. If you are obese and trying to conceive, this is something you should take into account and that you should possibly see a doctor about.